Take notes, Giants: Eagles revamped super roster in just five years
That’s how many Eagles are left on the team from the Super Bowl LII roster of just five years ago.
Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Isaac Seumalo, Jake Elliott, Rick Lovato, Lane Johnson.
Four starters from that team. Five position players and two specialists.
The quarterbacks who brought them to the pinnacle of the sport? They’re gone. Cleared out. The receivers? Swept clean. The head coach? Fired when the franchise bottomed out with four wins in 2020.
All that’s left of them are the statues and the banners.
Yet here the Eagles are again, one victory away from reaching another Super Bowl, two victories away from winning another championship.
This is the juggernaut the Giants are facing.
Not this week. They already tried to stand up to the NFC East champs and top seed in the conference last week and were overwhelmed in a 38-7 beatdown. The Eagles won three games against the Giants in the 2022 season — two in the regular season and one in the playoffs — and left little doubt that they are the superior team in every regard. It wasn’t much of a contest.
No, the obstacle the Eagles present to the Giants is a long-term one. An organizational one. A race in which the Eagles are so far ahead that they have built and rebuilt a championship roster in the time it has taken the Giants to cobble together one season with a winning record.
“There is a talent gap there that we need to close,” Giants general manager Joe Schoen said this past week when speaking of the Eagles (and, by the way, the Cowboys, another NFC East team that has owned the Giants, if not the rest of the league, for most of recent memory).
So how did the Eagles manage this unlikely five-year plan in which they won a Super Bowl with a backup quarterback against the most successful quarterback and coach combo of all time, blew up that team, started over and got back to this point?
The answer lies in general manager Howie Roseman, voted this season’s Executive of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America.
It wasn’t making all the right decisions that led him to that lofty honor for the second time in his career (he’s the fourth GM to win it multiple times, and two of the others, Bill Polian and George Young, are in the Hall of Fame). It was his willingness to abandon bad decisions before they became worse.
When things began to sour with Doug Pederson as the head coach, it was Roseman who axed him and hired Nick Sirianni as a replacement.
When it seemed as if the Eagles had a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz, it was Roseman who drafted Jalen Hurts and then traded Wentz away.
After Roseman drafted a series of disappointing receivers in Nelson Agholor, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Jalen Reagor, he cut ties with them and then traded up to select DeVonta Smith in 2021 (leapfrogging the Giants to do so, much to their chagrin). Before this season, he acquired A.J. Brown from the Titans.
Having locked up the stars of his 2018 draft class with long-term deals (Jordan Mailata, Dallas Goedert, Josh Sweat and Avonte Maddox among them) and keeping Cox on the team, Roseman was able to bolster the roster with free agents Haason Reddick, Kyzir White and Giants salary-cap casualty James Bradberry. Roseman traded for Brown and C.J. Gardner-Johnson.
The result? An NFC Championship Game appearance, a franchise-record 14 wins in the regular season and the deepest and most well-rounded team in the NFL, with an astounding 17 players earning Pro Bowl or Pro Bowl alternate status.
And basically an entirely new team from the one that won it all in 2017.
The three Giants losses to the Eagles this season demonstrated how much better their neighbors about 90 miles to the south are right now. They were humbling and eye-opening. They also were an introduction for Schoen and coach Brian Daboll, both in their first seasons with the Giants, to the mountain that stands in front of them in their new division.
It will take a far different tack to return to prominence from the one that won the Giants two Super Bowls in five seasons a decade ago. They’ve begun that process with the front office shake-ups and philosophical changes ushered in by Schoen and Daboll.
There still is work to do, though, and the status quo that Schoen politely espoused in which he delighted in wanting to retain just about everyone from a team that won one NFC East game isn’t going to cut it.
To one day best the Eagles, the Giants will have to be more aggressive and less satisfied, more ruthless and less tethered to their decisions.
To beat the Eagles, in other words, they may need to become a little more like them.